CANADA MORNING POST (TORONTO)
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A mother and her three young children who were set to travel in a one-day, cross-country trip with Air Canada is still fighting after various hurdles to get to her destination four days later.
“I never want another family to go through what to had to go through and I was travelling alone, I didn’t even have my husband with me or anything,” Jennifer MacDougall told CityNews while waiting for a friend to pick her family up from Halifax.
“I emailed them, I’ve been trying to call them, nobody is getting back to me, nobody is responding to me, nobody is communicating with me at all from Air Canada yet,” she said.
The family left Whitehorse at around 6 a.m. on Saturday with the hopes of getting to Sydney, Nova Scotia, by the end of the day for a month-long vacation with loved ones.
However, their first flight was delayed and arrived in Vancouver just after 9 a.m. MacDougall said their connecting flight, despite an assurance it would wait, left at 9 a.m. She said they had their subsequent flights rescheduled as a result. She said she went to the customer service desk to ask about the new connecting flight out of Toronto the following morning.
“I said, ‘Well I have three children what am I supposed to do for the night?’ She assured me that I would have a hotel booked when I got to Toronto,” she said.
Once they arrived in Toronto, MacDougall said the original connecting flight was actually still on the ground. When they tried to get on that plane, she said they were told they couldn’t.
“He said, ‘No,’ and I said, ‘Excuse me, this is my original flight. You’re still here. I have three children with a six-month-old baby, what am I supposed to do sleep on the airport floor? He’s like, ‘Yup, I guess that’s what you’re going to have to do’ and he turned his head and didn’t look in my direction again,” MacDougall recalled.
Forced to go to other Air Canada agents at the customer service portion of the terminal and stand with hundreds of other people, she said she wasn’t provided with a hotel room in order to have somewhere to stay until the new connecting flight in the morning, which later got cancelled too.
“I tell you I’ve never been treated so poorly in my entire life by a staff member,” MacDougall said, referring to the customer service representative.
“She said find a spot on the floor and put your kids to bed.
“I’m done at this point, I’m in tears, my kids are in tears, I have a baby, I’m running out of diapers, it’s a complete nightmare.”
In an attempt to get to Halifax where a relative could give them a place to stay, she said and her children got a flight to Montreal. The subsequent connecting flight out of the city got cancelled. However, a glimmer of hope at the customer service desk there.
“I met a really nice man at the customer service desk. He actually had a little bit of compassion for us,” she said.
However, MacDougall said she was forced to spend money on a hotel in order to avoid spend more time in an airport terminal along with food and replacement clothes since their bags were lost.
Although she finally arrived in Halifax, a friend is driving from Cape Breton to take her to Sydney — meaning she has to pay fuel costs now too.
“There’s another $400 or $500 that’s coming out of my pocket just to get to my destination of a ticket that has been paid for for six months,” MacDougall said.
“I’m completely disgusted with Air Canada, completely disgusted with their staff and completely disgusted with how I’ve been treated. My seven-year-old is completely traumatized. He never wants to travel again. He cried for three days straight.”
MacDougall isn’t alone in facing hurdles. While at Toronto Pearson International Airport Wednesday morning, a passenger stopped unannounced to speak with CityNews.
“Here for the last three days, three days I’ve been trying to get back to my country for three days and Air Canada,” the traveller said while waiting to return to Brazil.
During an unrelated announcement, federal transport minister Omar Alghabra reiterated there’s a passenger bill of rights.
“This is something we are seized with, this is important, we’re that we worked on four years ago, we just recently added other modifications to our regulations to strengthen these regulations,” he said in response to a reporter’s question.
Dr. Gábor Lukács, the president of Air Passenger Rights, took issue with the generic response and a general lack of government enforcement of regulations.
“It’s a non-answer to a real problem. The answer of minister Alghabra is devoid of any content, any meaning, any real solutions,” he said while also calling out the airline.
“Jennifer should have been provided with a hotel, there’s no such thing as we’re out of hotels … The law says you caused it, you pay for it. It’s a cancellation fully within the airline’s control.”
CityNews contacted Air Canada multiple times on Wednesday to ask about what happened, but a response wasn’t received by deadline.
Meanwhile, back in Halifax, MacDougall shared a plea with those with power to make changes.
“Do better, please don’t ever put another family through this again, do not make a six-month-old baby sleep on an airport floor. It was traumatizing for me as a parent to watch that happen and have to treat my children that way,” she said.